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I want to build a pvr which would record digital tv from videotron. I'd like to know if its possible and which kind of capture card could i use.

Thanks
Vincent Carrière
 

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my PVR

Hi Vincent

I built a Windows Media Center 2005 PC with Extender for my Videotron digital cable. It was relatively inexpensive.

A summary of costs:

MCE2005 OS: $200
Remote control (with controller for Illico box - optional if you are using analog cable): $55
ATI eHome Wonder video capture card: $110

That's the basics you need, plus DVD software (which I already had). You can install it (not upgrade) any modern computer - 2.0 Ghz or above. I have an AMD64 and it works flawlessly.

I also bought (from Ontario - the French version isn't released in Quebec yet) the Xbox Extender for $99 from Future Shop. I had an Xbox in the living room already so it was an easy upgrade. It connects to the computer in the office and you can watch TV on demand, along with live TV to pause, etc.

They also offer a Linksys Extender for the living room for about $300. Note you need a network connection (wired or wireless) to the computer with the software installed.

Your hard drive may play a role too - one half hour of recording on the best quality is about 1.5 gb. I leave it down on level 2 (of 4 levels) and 30 minutes is about 800 meg.. not too bad.

I'm completely addicted to it - changes the way you watch TV forever.

Fairly inexpensive and you can probably use the computer you already have.

Craig in Montreal
 

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/onstupidquestion

Why not just get the SA8000 DVR? What are the benefits of building your own?

/offstupidquestion
 

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dynot said:
Why not just get the SA8000 DVR? What are the benefits of building your own?
Not sure what Vincent's reasons are - but mine were for the geek factor. It can be updated dynamically with software updates (don't have to wait for Videotron).. you know the box inside out.

Plus I have my Xbox set up as well to play everything on demand. I have all my videos, dvd's, music on the large hard drive in the office and I can just choose what I want through the interface. If I download something, it's instantly available in the living room. Don't have to waste burning a DVD - just play it over network cable. Plus I can watch and record TV.

Homebuilt PVRs can do a lot more than the Videotron one.
 

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craigstar, i guess you use the ir blaster to change the channels on the illico box? how about setting up things to record like on a timer, will it work through MCE or do you have to set the time? reson i ask is because if mce gets the program guide through the regular cable the channels have different numbers on the cable box
 

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The MCE box downloads the programming from Zap2It's database (www.zap2it.com). You can specify if you have analog or digital (illico) when you set it up - so it knows if you need the analog or digital Videotron guide. It's postal code specific. Technically the guides for BEV, StarC, Look are there too. Even over the air including the Vermont and NY channels.

To schedule, you simply call up the guide (very similar to the Illico guide) .. click the select button and tell if you want a one time recording or record all episodes in the series. It sets everything for you automatically. The cool thing about it is if your computer isn't being used after the recording ends, you can put your computer in suspend low-power mode and it will wake itself up for the next recording. It's very cool - I've ended up in the morning with stray episodes of the Simpsons or Will&Grace that came on at 2:30 in the morning!

Yes it uses an IR blaster connected to the computer and to the Illico box to change channels.

C.
 

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craig,

If I get this
http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?ProductCode=320832

is this enough with MCE2005 OS?

also, where do I get the IR blaster?

and what do you mean by:

"Remote control (with controller for Illico box - optional if you are using analog cable): $55"

The remote thats comes with the illico box? what's the controller?

I guess you don't record HD yet right? :)

Thanks and sorry for the questions
Raven
 

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Hello..

I've never tried the Sapphire Theatrix Theater 550, but if you google it - it says it's compatable with MCE 2005. The key to selecting a tuner card is it has to have MPEG2 encoding built directly on the card. I have an eHome Wonder made by ATI - but they apparently discontinued the card in January.

Other cards that work well are the Haupauggae 150MCE and PVR 250/350 which get good reviews. Also the ATI All-In-Wonders with numbers in the 9000's work as well. There is a hardware compatability list on Microsoft.com which will show you all the cards.

The remote is this: http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=12897&vpn=A90-00007&manufacture=Microsoft

It's $48 from a company in Vancouver which is where I ordered mine. It arrived next day! They say it requires a system purchase on their website.. but that's not really 100% true - you are required to buy additional hardware. So maybe you could pick up your tuner card at the same time, or even a network cable. This is a Microsoft thing.

It's not really about the remote. Take a look at this 2004 model (don't order this one, it's more expensive anyway): http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=11960&vpn=RC1264103/OVU400002&manufacture=PHILIPS

You will see what comes with the remote. The IR blaser connects to the IR receiver of the remote which connects to your Illico box.

HD does work, yes. However, I'm too poor to invest in HD now. If anyone would like to donate a new HD plasma/LCD to me, please send me a PM. :)

You will need a HD card, such as the HD Wonder which can be ordered from the States, there are other options - but I can't intelligently speak on it as I haven't researched it much. After I get that plasma maybe I will......

Unless your computer is in the same room as your television, I highly recommend getting one of these products:

Xbox Media Center Extender: http://www.futureshop.ca/catalog/proddetail.asp?logon=&langid=EN&dept=0&sku_id=0665000FS10052519&catid=&newdeptid=15

Linksys Media Center Extender: http://secure.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=12955&vpn=WMCE54AG&manufacture=Linksys

These connect your computer to your television. I have the Xbox one and honestly don't know how I'd live without it. It was $99. I do know for a fact that these do NOT support HD. Keep in mind they are version 1.0. Version 2.0 (and a free update is coming out for existing users of both) should be out before the end of February.

The coolest thing about the Extenders is that you can have multiple in your house. Your computer becomes a media server and you can watch your recorded TV on any number of extenders.. so your TV in the den accesses it, your TV in your living room... possibilities are endless - only limited by the horsepower of your computer and the network connection speed (go wired, it'll save headaches with wireless).

I bought the OS from the same company too: http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=12898&vpn=M93-00091&manufacture=Microsoft

Craig
 

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Don't forget with the HTPC that you are converting the MPEG2 data to analog component then converting it back to digital and re-encoding it on the fly as MPEG2. It is not going to be as clean as an 8000 or 8000HD which makes an exact audio/video copy of the datastream. Plus with an HTPC the audio goes through the same digital to analog to digital conversion and you downres to 2.0 audio.

There are benefits to an HTPC but for me quality is my number one concern. Given the fact that Illico does not start out with high quality encodes I would be nervous about adding another DAC step.
 

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Can someone please help me understand these home unit PVR's.

Do you have to watch TV on the computer screen? Or does it tie back into your TV set??? :confused:

Cheers
 

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rob1 said:
Can someone please help me understand these home unit PVR's.

Do you have to watch TV on the computer screen? Or does it tie back into your TV set??? :confused:

Cheers

The above mentioned Extenders allow you to watch anything recorded on any television in your house. You can network multiple extenders and watch different recordings at once. The Extender is connected to the computer via network cable, or wireless network. You do not have to sit in front of the computer - I hardly ever see my computer in the office now that I can access it from the living room.
 

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Hi Craig,

Thanks for all this great info. My miniPC is beside my TV (its a HTPC) but currently not running MCE2005.

Beside the remote, usb receiver, tv tuner/capture, OS, what else do I need to control (By IR) the illico box so media center turn it on/off, etc.

or do I have everything I need?

Thanks!
Raven
 

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The only thing I can see is your output to the television. Not sure of your video card output - but you may need output cables.

Also you need DVD playback software installed on the computer - even if you don't watch DVD. The MPEG2 playback uses the codec from it. I've tried WinDVD 6 and nVidia DVD and both work fine for me.

In earlier versions of MCE the order you install the software, drivers, etc was more of a big deal. However in 2005 they have streamlined it a lot. When I had 2004 it had to be OS --> Tuner card driver --> DVD software which is fairly logical. If you do decide to install it, I'll try and help you with that as it can be time consuming.. but perhaps you're also a techie.. :)

C.
 

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Hi Craig,

The output to TV is already taken care of. I have an DVI output on the back my card and is connected to my HDTV. Looks great!

so I'm almost there...just need the remote, ir blaster, OS and Capture card :)
 

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Craig,

When everything is setup, how do you go about to have the TV guide show up on your PC and media center? does it support videotron? and is it free?

Thanks
Sylvain
 

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Raven_ said:
Craig,

When everything is setup, how do you go about to have the TV guide show up on your PC and media center? does it support videotron? and is it free?

Thanks
Sylvain

Hi Sylvain,

You can just press the green button on the remote and it will ask you what you want to do... start your TV, recorded TV, play a DVD, pictures, etc... there are also hundreds of customizations for it you can download.

Once you select My TV, you can browse the guide - which looks quite a bit like the Videotron one - with the little live TV in the corner and everything. And yes, it supports Videotron guides without flaw. The guide is even more detailed - tells you if it's a rerun, original air date, etc. It also downloads 2 weeks at a time.

Also you can go into "My Movies" it will scan the guide, download the box covers for all the movies and show you when they come on. It's quite cool. :)

C.
 

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Hi Craig,

That sounds amazing! this will bring new life to my dormant HTPC setup :)

As far as the IR blaster that controls my illico box, is this included in the microsoft media center remote kit? or do I have to buy an IR blaster from somewhere? if so, let me know which one

Thanks again
Sylvain
 
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